How citizen-centric is your government?


Back in November, we launched a new way of measuring the nature of the customer-company relationship, which we called Customer Quotient or CQ. Think of it as the emotional blueprint of what draws customers to certain brands. The research established that companies with a high CQ are more likely to experience sustainable growth.

Interestingly, we also ranked organisations from high to low CQ. Perhaps unsurprisingly, governments came last. But what does that actually mean for the perception of government as we know it? Are they less relevant? Evidently their customer service isn’t performing as well as it should.

How does government move itself forward when there is such disconnect between what it promises and what it delivers? Lessening the gap is a challenge.

Could society craft Constituent Inspired Governments? Is it possible that engaging in ongoing conversation with your constituents delivers similar benefits to talking with customers?

In Iceland, the whole constitution has been written by the constituents (after forcing their entire government to resign after a banking fraud scandal). Switzerland is built upon the notion of referendum and consistently generates widely accepted policies. Netherlands crafted their building plans, the reorganisation of municipal government, and their traffic and parking policy all based on citizens’ initiatives.

At a macro level, successful Constituent Inspired Governments would produce more relevant policies, manage budgets better, and make more accepted decisions. At a micro level, they would help prioritise policies and focus on what really matters to people. We saw that in 2008, when the Obama team used an emotionally appealing campaign to communicate, and create a brand that represented the people. But was this just a campaign amid an otherwise good old top-down presidency?

Traditional focus groups, run by local council and Campaign departments, often struggle to reach a deep emotional level, as well as engage a broad audience. So, in practical terms, how do we open up the debate?

In the local London boroughs of Sutton and Richmond, a Constituent Inspired movement is in its early stages. Using private online communities, Sutton and Richmond Councils are reaching a broader audience, and using creative techniques to engage them (from digital collaging to automatic writing). Most recently, Sutton Council worked creatively with its residents on the community to think about how best to encourage recycling in the area.

Behaviours are slowly changing and tools are developing fast. But what effect will this have on public perception and engagement? And is this the rumblings of a broader movement?


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